PA DEP Sec. Krancer Wants Tighter Rules Governing Marcellus Drilling in the State

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Michael Krancer sent a letter on May 27 to Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley, chairman of the governor’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission. Krancer, along with Cawley, is a member of the commission. The commission’s charter is to deliver a list of comprehensive policy recommendations to the governor and the state legislature by July 22 to improve Marcellus drilling in the state.

The fact that Krancer is calling for tighter regulations is a sure sign that new regulations are on the way in PA. Among the recommendations outlined in the letter:

Regarding water protection, DEP recommends restricting well drilling within 1,000 feet of a public water supply, doubling the distance from 250 feet to 500 feet to separate a gas well from a private water well, prohibiting wells in floodplains and extending a well operator’s presumptive liability for pollution or water loss from 1,000 feet to 2,500 feet. This presumptive liability would cover problems stemming from priming a well.

Another proposal would require operators to notify property owners and local municipalities within 2,500 feet of a proposed well. DEP recommends the manifest system for fracking wastewater at high-volume wells that use more than 80,000 gallons of water.

Also DEP wants greater regulatory authority in several areas. Specifically, DEP is seeking clearer authority to revoke, withhold or deny well permits because of failures or inaction on the part of an operator.

Contained in the agency’s recommendations are increases in criminal and civil penalties for violations of the oil and gas act.*

*The Scranton Times-Tribune (Jun 3, 2011) – DEP recommends gas act overhaul to protect water sources from drilling